Arsenal's Samir Nasri: Renewed Outlook Or More Of The Same?

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Arsenal's Samir Nasri: Renewed Outlook Or More Of The Same?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Once touted as the next Zidane, the stunning Arsenal swoop of Samir Nasri in 2008 for £12.5 million was considered a bargain basement price for such a lauded talent.  Samir Nasri, the little Magician of Marseille, was labelled by many as a clever and creative attacking midfielder with eclectic dribbling skill as well as an incisive eye for a pass. No wonder he was brought then in the place of the talented but disappointing Hleb, who although was a fantastic dribbler with apt touch, still frustratingly failed to ever effectively translate his mesmerizing skill into results for the Arsenal faithful. Two seasons on, however, Samir Nasri's contribution is also beginning to come into question and the irony of his role becoming more apparent as well.

Flashback to the opening of last season, 
Samir Nasri started with a bang. Scoring within the first four minutes of his Premier League debut versus West Bromwich Albion, the reminder of his immense potential is evident for all to see. Following this smashing introduction to English football, Samir Nasri once again showcases his talent. His next few goals for the season are, among others, against some of the biggest sides in the Premiership in Manchester United and Everton. He finishes his first season with his reputation barely in tatters: a respectable seven goals and five assists. Compare this statistic with Hleb's paltry three goals and zero assists tally at the end of his first season, and it is easy to presume that—at this point—Samir Nasri is on his way to Arsenal superstardom.

Jump to the 2009-2010 season: add a couple serious and niggling injuries, including the likes of a broken leg, and the forecast for 
Samir Nasri has changed. Despite being something of a force during this season, the Marseille Magician's influence is only waning. And despite all his rumored creativity, his statistical tally doesn't twist the truth. The statistics don't lie. While only playing ten less games than he did in the 2008-2009 season at 34, Samir Nasri retains about the same number of assists and goals: five each. Suffice to say, the "Next Zidane" isn't setting the domestic or Champions League on fire.

Flash forward to 2010-2011 season and there's a different feeling about 
Samir Nasri. Following a sublime dribbling effort and goal in the preceding season against Porto in the Champions League, he is back in the spotlight. Rest accumulated from missing the World Cup has risen the game of the agile and stylish attacking midfielder. A great preseason shows that Samir Nasri is back to his best—then reality sets in. Against the likes of Liverpool, he shines but is unable to turn the tide of the game. The reason is frighteningly clear: for all Samir Nasri's pretty play, he isn't effective. No matter how great his first touch, the final ball not only isn't there, but half the time the scary part is that it isn't even being attempted.

To tell the honest truth, 
Samir Nasri has adopted well. He has learned the Arsenal way of playing: slow, pretty, and often frustrating. No cutting passes in the silky fashion of Arsenal  superstar captain Cesc Fabregas; no spraying passes around in the cultured manner a la Manchester United legend Paul ScholesSamir Nasri is beginning to look ironically like a certain Arsenal predecessor.  Just a quick shimmy here, a show of skill there, a short pass here and there; the verdict (and the comparison) is evident for all to see: style but no substance.

The question needs to be asked: is 
Samir Nasri still adapting to the Premier League or is this the limit of his contribution? Is he another case like the always improving Cesc Fabregas or phantom wizard like Alexander Hleb? Only time will tell, but doubtlessly The Magician from Marseille has time to turn the tables and prove he is as spectacular as they say.
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